Denmark: Asylum seeker with two wives

The Danish government had recently transported 200 Iraqis - interpreters working for the Danish forces and their families - to Denmark. But now the authorities have a new challenge: one of the interpreters has brought his two wives with him.

The 41 year old interpreter, SH, has been staying together with his family at the Mariesminde asylum center in Ebeltoft since Monday. His two wives, 32 and 34 years old, and their three children, pose a "new situation". In any case, the section head in the asylum office, Birgit Petersen doesn't remember such a case.

Petersen did not want to comment on whether the family will be able to get asylum in Denmark, where polygamy is illegal, both because of the confidentiality required in such cases and because the case is not yet being handled.

Each case is handled on an individual basis, but generally there are various possibilities for a polygamous family. The first possibility is that every person individually has grounds for asylum. The next is that those married to the asylum seeker get the same status even if they are not all at risk. He would then be able to use family reunification laws, if the children request a residence permit together with their mother.

The interpreter says that they are a family and he hopes that they would all get asylum together. Formally he had requested asylum as two families: his first wife together with one kid and himself, and another family with his second wife and two children.

The children are a 2.5 years old boy, a two girls aged 1.5 years and 5 months, so SH thinks two women are not really too much. He adds jokingly that he would like to marry a third, if it was allowed.

If the whole family will get asylum status in Denmark, there would then be a question of illegal bigamy. One solution might be for the man's first marriage will be recognized by the authorities, and the other will only be recognized by Muslim law. The authorities will not intervene in how the family lives at home.

Source: Berlingske Tidende (Danish)

See also: Denmark: Debate about polygamy

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